Ending violence against women will not be achieved as a result of one activity or initiative. But it is achievable. These are the things we noted in the new federal government’s plans that will, if implemented properly, make a real difference for women in Canada.
The new federal government promised to:
1. Immediately launch a national public inquiry into missing and murdered Indigenous women and girls in Canada. To assure its success, and to model the respect for Indigenous women necessary for any such plan to succeed, the Inquiry process must be conducted in consultation with and under the leadership of Indigenous women and the Native Women’s Association of Canada.
2. Prevent domestic violence and sexual assault by:
a. Working with experts and advocates, developing and implementing a comprehensive federal gender violence strategy and action plan aligned with existing provincial strategies
b. Increasing investments in growing and maintaining Canada’s network of shelters and transition houses
c. Amending the Criminal Code to reverse onus on bail for those with previous convictions of intimate partner violence, specify that intimate partner violence is an aggravating factor for sentencing and increase maximum sentence for repeat offenders
3. Address other issues advocates and survivors have long identified as barriers to escape from violence. Namely poverty, affordable childcare and housing. On these, they promised to:
a. Make a ten-year investment in social infrastructure
b. Build more new housing units and refurbish old ones
c. Give support to municipalities to maintain rent-geared-to-income subsidies in co-ops
d. Give communities the money they need to help the homeless find stable housing
e. Encourage the construction of new rental housing by removing the GST on new capital investments in affordable rental housing
f. Modernize the existing Home Buyers Plan to allow Canadians impacted by sudden, significant life changes to buy a house without tax penalty.
g. Direct Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation and the new Canadian Infrastructure Bank to provide financing for the construction of new, affordable rental housing
h. Make some federal lands available at low cost for affordable housing in communities where there is a pressing need
i. Consider policy tools that could keep housing ownership within reach in high-price markets
j. Introduce a new, monthly, tax-free Canada Child Benefit for those in greatest need: single-parent families and low-income families
k. Increase by 10% the Guaranteed Income Supplement for single low-income seniors
l. Build more new and refurbish existing affordable housing and seniors’ facilities, support municipalities to maintain rent-geared-to-income subsidies in co-ops and give communities the money they need to help homeless Canadians find stable housing
m. Within the first 100 days of forming government to meet with provinces. territories and Indigenous communities to begin work on a new National Early Learning and Child Care Framework to deliver affordable, high-quality, flexible and fully inclusive child care.
4. Consider the gender Impacts of the decisions they make. We note that equality is an imperative component to real freedom from violence for women. Considering gender impacts is a necessary first step to achieving equality.
We welcome the new federal government to Parliament and we look forward to seeing these promises realized. For the same reason they gave for gender parity in Parliament, we say:
Because it’s 2015: End violence against women.